Islam is the religion of mercy, tolerance and forgiveness and many other human values. One of the values that Islam has given due attention to is dialogue. Here, I will try to shed some light on dialogue as a noble value in Islam.
Islam sees that dialogue is the golden means to know the other as Allah, praise be to Him, created people of different cultures, natures, languages and faiths and this is stated in the Holy Qur’an, “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” (Qur’an, 49:13)
But dialogue with the other requires patience, flexibility and open-mindedness which were clearly revealed in Prophet Muhammad’s dialogue with others even if they were idolaters and this is why Allah praises him, “It is part of the Mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when you have taken a decision put your trust in Allah; for Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Qur’an, 3:159)
Good listening is one of the principles of dialogue in Islam. It was never reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not listen well to anyone. In other words, he was always an attentive listener: he was never reported to interrupt anybody even if the speaker was one of his enemies and he used to say “Have you finished, brother?” This was his way of respecting other people’s rights to express themselves.
Even if this dialogue involves an argument or debate, the Holy Qur’an advises Muslims to do that in a civilized way, “Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (Qur’an, 16:125)
The above verse emphasizes that dialogue with the other requires wisdom and common sense, which are basic requirements to convey the teachings and message of Allah. It can be said that Islam stresses that dialogue is the way to communicate with the other.
By: Dr. Khaled Tawfik